I’m kind of addicted to real estate shows, and looking at MLS and generally playing the “if I had no ceiling on my budget and didn’t need a job, what house would I buy?” game. It’s a fun game. However, selling and buying (or in our case, listing for sale, buying, losing the deal, buying something else, and eventually selling) was a tiresome, stressful, and LOOONNNGGGG process. And now we are here!
The house we’ve bought is, like so many New Westminster starter homes, a modest 1912 home on a 4000 square foot lot in the area known as Sapperton in New Westminster. There is some speculation that we actually live in a bordering neighbourhood called Massey Victory Heights, but since we are not particularly “high” we relate more to the Sapperton label. I guess when I contact our local residents association, I will be told where to go (pun intended).
Historical Notes: The house was built by Agnes Irwin, and the only building permit on record was issued July 2, 1912 to erect a house (at a princely sum of $1000). Across the street is a mirror image house with a few modifications that was permitted Nov 2 1912 to the same person. I can’t find any of the residents listed from 1912 to 1924 – the BC Directory was organized by name at that point, and it wasn’t until 1924 that a cross reference using the address was included. The earliest name I can find in 1924 is a Mr. Edward Bateman, track maintenance, for the BC Electric Railway Company. By 1925 he was listed as a foreman, and in 1939, a wife was listed, Mabel. Another Bateman, Doreen, was listed as a boarder. The lived in our house until 1946, and in my head, the war changed things for Edward, Mabel, and Doreen. 1947-48 saw Mr. & Mrs. McClinton living in our house, and from 1950-1958 there was an ever changing cast of names and occupations. A professional photographer was listed (and his studio is another avenue I want to chase down), as well as a shovel operator, a clerk, a labourer, an employee of Field’s, and in 1958, Mr. Earl Alexander, a millworker, moved in with his wife Helen.
Helen and Earl lived here until the early 70s, and the 70s saw some weird activity in the BC Directory: multiple no-returns and a security company were both listed. It wasn’t until 1981 that a man named John Lang (no occupation listed) moved in. I think Mr. Lang may have been responsible for some of the renovations done as he lived here until 1992+. In 1992 the BC Directory was no longer published, and I haven’t followed the trail since then. I need a few good weeks at the museum and archives and this winter, when the market is over for the season, you can bet you’ll see me there.
Here are some amazing photos I discovered at the New Westminster Public Library’s online heritage photo collection. They are of the house across the street, the one built at the same time. They give an amazing portrayal of the neighbourhood then versus now, and also a great look at the original “look” of our house’s twin. Photos are used with permission.
Finally, here’s the photo tour of our house now in case you haven’t seen the pictures yet:
We love love love our house. Near future plans include putting in a suite, getting built-ins done in the master bedroom to get rid of the two dressers we currently have squashed in there, putting a lot of shelving into closets, outfitting the sewing room with furniture (my sewing machine hasn’t been permanently set up for oh, 6 years), and finding the right pieces of furniture to add to what we have: a sofabed for the office, a wicker loveseat for the sunroom, and a nice occasional chair to add to the living room. Distant future plans include exterior re-siding and restoring it to the original heritage looking wood sided house, a bathroom reno (I have long wanted a claw foot tub), and building a carport where the parking pad is now, with a walk on deck from the dining room.
We’ve been at Home Depot or Rona more times than I can count in the last month, and I’m really enjoying spending my weekends working in the yard rather than watching TV or going out. If I wasn’t a homebody before, I am more now than ever.